Thursday, December 09, 2004
Follow-up & Pathology
It didn't take long before I no longer need any pain medication and was moving around just fine. I can even laugh without pain which is a necessity in my family! My first post op appointment was with the plastic surgeon. He was quite pleased with his work (always a good sign) and quite pleased with the way surgery went. The oncology surgeon was just as pleased during our post op appointment the next day. We went over the pathology report as well. I've read the report at least a dozen times just trying to absorb and celebrate the words, "no residual invasive carcinoma seen in multiple representative sections taken...."

Some people have been puzzled when I have mentioned the pathology report. The results showed that there was no residual sign of cancer. What this means is that the chemo worked at killing any remaining cancer cells in my breast. If the chemo worked there, it would have worked anywhere this particular cancer may have spread (though we have no evidence it had spread since my lymphnodes were clear). If cancer had been present, it would have indicated a more resilient cancer that potentially could require further follow up. So why remove the breasts if no sign of cancer? The type of cancer I had (emphasis on the "had") was invasive lobular (as opposed to ductal) which has a high recurrence rate and a high rate of spreading to the other breast. This action effectively reduces my recurrence rate to less than 4% over my lifetime. Those are odds I am willing to bet on.

The next few months will be a second puberty of sorts as we begin incrementally filling the tissue expanders. Once they have reached capacity, they will be removed and replaced with permanenet implants. I will spend more time talking about this reconstruction phase as the process continues, but that won't happen for another month. For now I just have to heal this very large wound so that I can move on. Unfortunately this means I must rest and not be active. This is going to be a long process!
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
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Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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